"Dad, my family and I are planning on taking our new son to Disney World for his first trip in June 2019." That's so cool. "With Disney's efforts seemingly ramping up in preparations for the Walt Disney World's Anniversary, is guest satisfaction destined to be overlooked until the anniversary arrives? What do you anticipate the impact on crowds to be between now and the anniversary?"
The Backlot is looking a little rough these days - Photo by Brett Svenson
Andy, you're correct. Disney is ramping things up for 2021. They even said this at the D23 Expo, when they made all of the announcements about what's coming. They said they are doing a big push for the 50th birthday of Walt Disney World in 2021. October 2021, Walt Disney World turns 50. It's going to be a big party.
It's something that has needed to be done for years. Epcot, poor Epcot, has needed a revamp for probably 15 years. Disney's Hollywood Studios, they're just totally redoing Disney's Hollywood Studios for the most part. I think there aren't now any attractions left that were there on opening day at Disney Hollywood Studios. Everything seems to be torn up over there.
Guest satisfaction? Yeah, it's probably down some, especially at Hollywood Studios. It's obvious there's major construction going on. They closed the Backlot, they closed all of that back in the back for a good reason. Yes, temporarily, it's going be a little rough.
I saw some pictures of the Caribbean Beach Resort this week, and it's pretty bad. I don't think I would suggest staying at the Caribbean Beach Resort right now. The main building has been destroyed. I mean you're eating meals in a temporary buildings. The gift shop is now a food truck.
I think I would avoid Caribbean Beach Resort until the main building gets redone. There's a reason why Caribbean Beach Resort's price is all the way down. Customer satisfaction at Caribbean Beach Resort way down, absolutely.
Now, on the other side of that, what's coming is super-exciting. Super-exciting. You've got the Disney Skyliner (gondolas). Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, Toy Story Land. You've got the Ratatouille Ride. You've got the Guardians of the Galaxy ROLLER COASTER in Epcot. You've got the new Missions Space Restaurant in Epcot. You've got Pandora already open and Animal Kingdom. You've got TRON coming to the Magic Kingdom.
We've got all this stuff that's been announced that's coming and there's more announcements to come. So, yeah, there's going to be a lot of construction going on at Walt Disney World, but most of it, Disney is real good at hiding construction. It's going to be tough in some places.
Hollywood Studios is about to get a lot better. By the time you go in June of 2019, Hollywood Studios will be pretty much transformed sometime around that. Sometime in 2019, Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge is going to open. In 2018, Toy Story Land will open next summer. So even though Hollywood Studios is down, by the time you get there, it's going to be up. My guess is by the time you get there, it's possible that the Guardians of the Galaxy Ride will be open in Epcot. Maybe not because they've got some building construction to do, so maybe not, but there will be significant progress made by the time you get there in 2019 on the parks.
Now, I will say crowd-wise, like when Pandora opened, Animal Kingdom this year has been slammed. Crowds are way up in Animal Kingdom. Overall crowds, not so much, but the crowds in Animal Kingdom are up. That will happen next summer when Toy Story Land opens. Crowds will be up in Hollywood Studios. My guess is crowds overall next summer will be up, and that's going to start a trend. The year after that, Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opens. Sometime in there, Ratatouille will open. Guardians of the Galaxy will open, so you'll see bigger crowds in Epcot. Then you got the TRON roller coaster in the Magic Kingdom... You got all of these things opening over the next two years in Walt Disney World that is just going to ratchet up the crowds. 2021, going to be huge. It's going to be huge.
I'm going to be there on October 2021. I know a lot of people will be. I will be making my hotel reservations the first day I can because they're going to sell out. There are going to be people staying in Tampa and driving over just because there's no hotels left in Orlando. It's going to be huge. But 2019, the crowds won't be much bigger than they are now. Might be a little bit, but I don't see it being a big problem.
Dad's Bottom Line
The bottom line is, yes, there is construction going on. Disney is very good about separating construction from people, so customer satisfaction, I don't see it going down a lot, except for in a couple of places. But what's coming is big, huge. It's going to be great. Crowds are going to bump up just because there are big things happening. That's just the way it's going to be.